Dear 23 year old
20 year old….
Dear 20 something year old. Yep. Dear you, approaching your twenties, at the start of your twenties, in the middle of your twenties or closing the chapter of your twenties. Dear you! I wish I could claim to have plenty of wisdom to offer… I don’t. But I have something I want to say.
Have you read that book yet? The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay? Perhaps I should wait a little as you pick it out and quickly read through it.
This has been ‘Birthday weekend’. (And no I didn’t have a virtual party. Just enjoyed the simplicity of being home and that created one of the best birthdays I’ve celebrated in a while.) And of course it got me thinking.
Thinking about how maybe I’m not ready to turn a year older. But time truly has no respect for your personal preferences, so here I am, a year older than I was the last time I wrote a post here.
Thinking about how I would keep all my experiences of my past year on the hush. Not much happened. That’s what gets to me the most. That despite my best laid plans, I come out of the year feeling like a little kid lost in the woods. I wish I could freeze the time, long enough to carry meaning out if it. To maybe boast of the kind of success I want to boast about.
What happens in the wait? In the gap year? In the jump from your expectations to reality.
Out of university, this past year threw me smack middle into the uncertainties that surround most of our decisions. And somehow, without the order of school, the world shifted below our feet to organise us in different circles. There are classmates who went on to pursue their Masters, classmates who got married, classmates with kids now, classmates who started their own businesses. Then those who keeping thinking we are still a little too young to start committing to a series of things. There are all sorts of different phases of life that we are caught up in.
Then there’s the me-category. Looking at life go on for everyone but finding myself somehow… Stuck. Maybe in keeping up with the first analogy – lost!
And it’s so hard to keep the faith during that time when what comes easier are the questions… ‘Where are you headed? What’s next for you? What are you doing with yourself?’ That come as an onslaught from every corner…your friends, your family, some strangers and yourself! And you wake up in the middle of the night wondering where you are truly headed.
Somehow, they expect you to have it together. (If you have it together, kudos to you, keep it together.) And sometimes your reality just won’t keep pace with your expectations.
The book recommendation at the top, The Defining Decade, talks about the fact that we all go through our twenties with that wonder and entitlement to time. Till you are waking up one night and wondering where the time went and you didn’t make meaningful strides when the world was at your feet. If it ever were.
To drum in how little time I’ve got and how soon I might need to be making way for the younger generation (yes please, there’s already a younger generation), I read a story on Reedsy (Reedsy prompts…I think I have mentioned that before) by a 9 year old. Already claiming her space in the world I haven’t fully grasped. And there was budding talent out there. Talent we are going to have make space for whether we want to or not.
So why 23 then? Why would I freeze anything at 23? Aside from the fact that it’s the last hour of the day before the clock goes for a reset again…all the way back to zero. It still comes back to that false sense of time. (Don’t we all mostly want a little more time than what we get?) The world is not necessarily lining up to see me then! 23, a little seasoned in the ways of the world (as much as you can be at that age) and with a good range of years to make a mark. 23 seems to be a good year to get it together…until it’s not.
But that’s not the all or nothing age…thankfully. No age is the all or nothing despite what the world wants us to believe. Yes, it’s true – it is always easier and better to get a handle on these things earlier in time. But that doesn’t happen for all of us. And that thought, of failing immensely at something, shouldn’t imprison us.
Age with grace and wisdom. Carry your past experiences like a campus. Keep trying. Don’t sit idly by as the world rushes past you. Find what you love. Let God lead you in redeeming the time. Claim your spot and fight for it! Grow with no fear or regrets.